Stephen Keshi has been the hottest, most debated topic in Nigerian football since he took over has chief coach of the Super Eagles.
His failures, mistakes, charm, stubbornness and successes have enraged many and at the same time endeared others to him. It’s no surprise then that some of the most controversial quotes in recent times have been hauled his way.
Here are some of the top, most notorious quotes about Keshi you can’t find anywhere else online.
“I will like to thank Stephen Keshi for living up to the expectations of many Nigerians. He has been the most successful coach in the history of Nigeria. His only rival is his friend and mentor, Clemence Westerhof,”
Hate Keshi or love him yet not many will disagree with former national team star, Segun Odegbami’s impression of the Nigerian national team manager.
“Keshi has lived up to expectations and has made us to believe that we don’t need foreigners. I can say that Keshi, with all the facts and figure, has been the most successful coach of Nigeria. His only rival is his mentor, Clemense Westerhof and I see many similarities in Keshi and Westerhof.”
1980 Nations Cup winner Segun Odegbami
“Keshi has been inspirational to me and I believe to others. I took over as captain from him and I know his person. He is a great coach.”
Augustine Eguavoen, a 1994 Nations Cup winner in Tunisia,
“I do not think this game will change his status in Africa. I know Nigerians are behind him. They all respect him and what he has done with the local team. We know how African football is and I had said that Keshi is the kind of man we need in African football. We all follow his steps and we are all learning from him as well. This is just but one match, I do not think, the outcome has changed his status.”
Some respected voices still think Keshi is the best in Africa. Coach Maxwell Konadu of Ghana gives his verdict after his team defeated the Super Eagles 4-1 on penalties in the African Nations Championship semi-final match.
“Coach Keshi is going to fight. This is because he believes he should have been coach of the South African team. He is going to try to use all his psychological tactics to make sure that all his players follow his instructions.”
South African coach, Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, talks up his wards by playing mind games with the Award-winning Nigerian coach.
“This Nigeria team has been giving us nightmares, but we will fight in every game. When two Elephants meet, it is grass that suffers. Watch out, brace yourself for war that day, because, like I have indicated earlier on, they have given us sleepless nights.”
Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, South African coach admits to the fears his team have for the Super Eagles under Stephen Keshi.
“Keshi’s act is patriotism at its highest, worthy of commendation. Usually, it’s during period of national emergency that patriots step out to distinguish themselves from ordinary mortals.”
Keshi may appear not very tactical but he’s certainly not un-patriotic, in the views of former Super Eagles assistant coach, Joe Erico.
From Keshi’s Critics
“I don’t know how to describe the way Eagles played, there was not a plan or a defined play pattern. They lack team work. Players just go to the pitch and play their own way without any co-ordination. In fact, the Eagles didn’t play progressive football and their performance fell short of African champions and that they must act fast to make AFCON 2015.”
Former international, Edema Fuludu unconvinced that coach Keshi is the right man to take the Super Eagles to the next level.
“Since Keshi took over, we are used to just one system where we rely on the speed of our attackers and rely on counter.”
Former Eagles’ striker Jonathan Akpoborie criticised current boss Keshi’s tactics suggesting that the National team is too one dimensional.
“I can say Eagles lost to France because Coach Stephen Keshi lacked tactical knowledge. When an important player is injured, there must be a very good option in same frame with the player to come on, but that was not to be in the game.”
Ex-Eagle Garba Lawal and member technical committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) strongly questions Keshi’s tactical acumen.
“When I read about his denial, I felt disappointed. To start with he didn’t deny he wished his players bye. If he truly has hopes of continuing he won’t address his players so fast. To me he is looking for attention and maybe he is at cross roads over to stay or leave, he appears confused a bit as he loves Nigeria and his job.”
Immediately after the World Cup, Keshi resigned only to make a U-turn and deny doing so. Atlanta 96 Olympic Gold medalist, Emmanuel Babayaro doesn’t seem fascinated by the coach’s duplicity.
On Keshi’s Contractual crisis
“Yes, we owe Keshi about four months’ salary. It is also true that we have not paid him since the AFCON feat in South Africa.”
Keshi is anything but a liar as NFF technical committee chairman, Mr Chris Green confirms the ugly situation which the coach had made open to Nigerians.
“Yes we are owing Keshi, so what? But Keshi is not the only employee in the NFF who has not got his salary. My management staff have not received their salaries for over a year and nobody is making noise about it.”
President of the NFF, Aminu Maigari sees no big deal in owing Keshi.
“Keshi should realise that the NFF are his employers. Aminu Maigari is accessible. Green is also accessible, so I wonder where the friction is coming from. Keshi should respect the NFF.”
Certainly for some people, Keshi is a disrespectful motherfucker. Chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission, Pinnich Amaju gives his opinion about the perceived friction between Keshi and NFF.
“A coach, like any other worker looks out for better condition of service. So if Keshi is going for the highest bidder and better condition, I will advise him to go but if the new offer is not better than what he is getting here, then I will advise that he stays.”
Bafana Bafana or Super Eagles? Former Nigeria’s coach Christian Chukwu gives his take on Keshi’s dilemma.
Keshi vs Un-favoured Players
“Keshi won the Africa Cup of Nations without Osaze. He won the World Cup ticket without Uche and Osaze. He can make an impact in Brazil without the two players. Keshi should be allowed to pick his players for the tournament because he is the coach. He knows the players better than us. We shouldn’t force any player on him.”
1998 UEFA Cup winner and Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games gold medallist, Taribo West towing the unpopular line of publicly supporting Keshi ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“I do not know the reasons for these statements. Actually I am very surprised. It’s very sad for me, but I will not get into this issue.”
Enstranged Super Eagles striker, Ikechukwu Uche is surprised by coach Stephen Keshi’s declaration that he was an undisciplined player.
“I think the coach of Nigeria is not talking about the same Uche playing on our team,”
Villarreal President, Fernando Roig believes Keshi was not quite correct with the statement on Uche.
“We should all rally round the team and support them in Brazil. The coach cannot select everyone available to represent Nigeria. I thank the fans and those passionately concerned about my omission. I’m grateful for their support and best wishes. For me, those picked and those left out are also aware that the country’s success is more important than personal glory.”
That’s what the alleged ‘black sheep’ of the Super Eagles, former Getafe star, Ikechukwu Uche, has to say about his omission from the World Cup squad. Large hearted, right?